Although reading may seem outdated as a way of passing the time, there is still a lot to be done at home.
A cozy spot to read a book in, or just relax by a window is a great place to go. Gil Schafer, a New York-based architect and author of A Place to Call Home, says that these built-ins can trigger so many memories. It could be the bunk bed that you slept in as a child or memories of other places, such as belowdecks on a boat. Whatever the reason, the appeal is universal. Below and here are some Schafer’s favorite nooks.
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A World Away
A bunk niche offers separate-but-together seclusion in this lower-level game room in an upstate New York lake house. The alcove’s unique identity is given by the sea-blue grasscloth and the crisply painted millwork. The alcove is adorned with frames and bookshelves at each end. It also features plush cushions and an articulated sconce, which make it a great place to read a novel or just for daydreaming.
The living room featured a bay window and a built-in chair. This was the focal point of activity in the childhood home that belonged to the owner of the house. The family gathered around the table to eat, play games or simply to read the paper. Schafer created a similar feature in the home to bring back fond memories and foster new ones.
This reading nook is located in a family room that has a fireplace and floor-to-ceiling bookcases. There are also French doors to the outside. The robin’s-egg blue paneling helps it blend into its surroundings. It’s a great retreat for rainy days and can also be used as a place to sleep overnight guests, which is a common need in a home with many children. Schafer also included a panel beneath the shelves, as he does all the time. This allows for head pillows to be comfortably supported when you’re ready to relax.
In a California casual home, two custom mattresses extend from toe to tip along the length the living room wall. The walls are lined with mismatched, reclaimed wooden boards. The daybed is long enough to allow two people to relax and enjoy a good book. The skirt detail and storage drawers add a more elegant dimension to the bench.
The custom built-in is a three-cubby, 3-inch bench with inset drawers and slides that allow it to move on undermounts. The raised platform supports it, and the skirt is cut out.
The top-floor guest bedroom in Schafer’s Maine house featured a unique niche that allowed for an extra-deep window seat in the new dormer. Large casement windows provide fresh air and beautiful views of the water. It is large enough to place a bag on the seat while you unpack. Extra comforters can be stored in drawers, which is a great addition to a climate with high temperatures day and night, even in summer.
Schafer annexed a space in an adjoining room to create a “nook for livability” and “comfort” in the girl’s bedroom. It’s an architectural highlight that brightens the room by covering the ceiling and three sides with fabric that matches the curtains. The built-in bench is slightly higher than the recess, which allows for less depth but does not diminish the sense of privacy.
A built-in bedroom bench can be made from chimneys that are located on either side of a windowsill. The nook is given extra prominence by framing it with trim in the same blue color as the bench seat and adding more blue to the window sashes. A selection of pillows and a good seat cushion provide support and comfort in this spot that is perfect for taking in the views and the breeze.
You don’t have to use built-ins to create a peaceful space that inspires your imagination. This under-the-stairs space was designed by Schafer and can be furnished with furniture. Rita Konig, an interior designer, transformed it into a special space that can be used as a hangout. She hung generations worth of family photos and old-school lighting. A curvy settee was added to give its occupants a hug. This could not be more cozier.